What is website hacking, what can it lead to, and how to eliminate its consequences? Forbes estimates that 30,000 new websites get hacked every new day!
This is because website owners don’t always pay attention to their websites’ security; or don’t honestly care much about practical cybersecurity risk management strategies.
What Is Website Hacking?
Wikipedia describes ‘website hacking’ as “the process of exploiting security vulnerabilities in web applications; or web servers to gain unauthorized access to data.”
With the invention of particular tools, it has become effortless for hackers to break into websites and modify code. For example, if any hacker gains access to your website’s header or footer files;then they can inject malicious code which will send information about all visitors of the page back to them.
This information may include passwords, login credentials, etc., depending on where they injected the offending code into the site’s system.
What can Website Attacks Lead to?
If your site gets hacked; depending on what type of information it might contain, this could have critical consequences for both you and your clients.
If credit card information is leaked; there are high chances that clients will lose their trust in your site’s ability to protect them against financial fraud. At the same time, you’ll have a tough time recovering from the damage done; to your reputation in terms of work loss, legal expenses, etc.
Additionally, any leaked internal documents could result in a loss of trade secrets; which is why it’s essential to know how to protect your site from hackers.
Website attacks can also lead to malware, phishing, etc.
- Malware is software used to; disturb computer operations, collect sensitive information, entrance private computer systems, etc.
- At the same time, phishing is a form of internet fraud; where electronic identities and information are stolen and used for personal gain.
How can Businesses Eliminate the Consequences of Website Hacking Attacks?
As a business owner, you can do lots to prevent your website from getting attacked; thus eliminating the consequences of website hacking. Here are some basic things that will go a long way in protecting your sites:
Keep your software up to date at all times
For keeping your website safe from hackers, it is crucial that you keep your software up to date. You should update your web server and all the other open-source components of your website; as soon as a new version becomes available.
Otherwise, there could be security vulnerabilities in those components that may potentially expose your site to attacks by hackers.
Your first line of protection against any harm is a good backup policy. This means backing up all critical data – databases, configurations files, etc.; at regular intervals so that you can roll back to the last working state if anything goes wrong.
In addition, keeping backups offsite minimizes the risk of losing them in case of fire or some other local disaster.
In addition, to keep your software up to date, you should have a security audit performed on your website every now and then. An outside source will be able to check all the other components that could potentially expose your site to hackers; as well as special scanners that can scan the contents of files for signs of malware.
If any vulnerabilities are detected, they must get fixed immediately; because even if you don’t think a particular file poses a security risk. Hackers might access them and exploit these vulnerabilities, thus allowing them entry into the system.
Avoid using easy passwords
Hackers use automated tools which can go through entire dictionary lists to find out weak passwords. If an account has been created with an easy password; such as username 1, password one, then this would be reasonably easy for a hacker to guess.
To minimize the risk of website hacking; use complex passwords that don’t contain dictionary words and vary them across all systems. If one gets compromised; you won’t have to worry about everything else being affected.
How Website Hacking Works – 6 Types of Website Attacks
Hackers have a myriad of options when it comes to attacking your website. However, the attack method they can use on you will depend on your website’s risk profiles.
Here is a roundup of the typical attack mechanisms a motivated hacker may want to use against you.
An SQL injection is a security exploit in which hackers can execute malicious SQL statements on your website’s databases. If they can do so successfully, they may be able to read sensitive data from the database; modify or delete contents of the tables, etc.
Cross-Site Scripting (XSS)
An XSS attack occurs when an attacker tricks users into clicking on a malicious link; with some HTTP request that gets executed. This allows them to steal session cookies and perform actions under user permissions; thus gaining complete control over the website and its content.
Brute force attack
The brute force attack is an attempt by hackers to access resources on your site; by systematically checking all possible passwords until one works. They do this by using automated tools that can go through millions of passwords per minute.
Denial of Service (DoS) attack
A DoS attack is a form of network-based assault where hackers target the resources and capabilities of your site; to make it unavailable to legitimate visitors resulting in its crash or slowdown. This is typically achieved by overloading and flooding the targeted resource with superfluous requests until it stops functioning.
Heartbleed Bug vulnerability
A Heartbleed Bug vulnerability is a security exploit that can affect servers that use the OpenSSL cryptography library. The bug allows hackers to steal data from affected machines without making themselves visible by intercepting packets; or eavesdropping via man-in-the-middle attacks.
Man in the Middle (MITM) attack
In a MITM attack, hackers try to gain complete control over your connection with their device; which is conveniently between you and the site you’re trying to access. Once they have successfully set up this connection, they can perform several different tasks; such as intercepting packets containing sensitive information or injecting malware into them for execution on your end.
How To Protect Website From Hacking – 7 Web Security Mistakes You Should Avoid
Ensuring the security of your website begins with you. If you want to prevent hackers from sneaking into your website, the first step is to strengthen yourself. Here are remarkable common mistakes you should avoid to protect yourself and your company:
Using too many online services
If you sign up with many different websites on different platforms, there is a remarkably high chance that; some will have security loopholes, thus allowing hackers access to your data. There’s also a higher probability that they may not update these sites all the time; leading to even more exploits by malicious third parties.
Saving passwords in insecure locations
Hackers know where people tend to hide their passwords, and if it isn’t somewhere safe; they will likely try to get into that place and take it for themselves. They may develop a password cracking program that can make short work of your account data; if it’s not well protected.
Passing sensitive information over HTTP
Your website should be accessible via HTTPS and not just HTTP as it encrypts all the traffic sent to and from the site; thus ensuring that no one will be able to decipher the contents of transmitted data, including passwords, bank accounts, etc.
Using insecure connections
Using public Wi-Fi is a security nightmare as these types of networks offer virtually no encryption or other safety precautions. This leaves you susceptible to anyone on those networks who might try to intercept your data; leading to very unpleasant consequences such as identity theft.
Accepting file uploads from strangers
Anything you upload to your site will be executed on the server; and hackers can exploit this by sending you malicious files; which will run their malware once they’re uploaded.
Hackers actively search for vulnerabilities and then write exploits that can take advantage of them. Thus, if you don’t update often enough, there is a high probability that; they will find an exploit for your system and do unspeakable things with it.
Running out of date software
Outdated software may not have the latest security patches, so you need to stay up to date; by using automatic updates or updating manually as soon as new versions become available.
Hackers are uniformly finding new ways to gain access to your system and data; which is why you need to be vigilant with the security of your website.
By following good practices like using HTTPS, not saving passwords in plaintext, and patching regularly; you can prevent hackers from sneaking into your site.
But more importantly, make sure that once they do get in; they fail to make off with any of your precious data or bring down your website for everyone else.
Author Bio: Samuel Matthews is a gifted journalist who has written his own detective story. He loves to learn new things and meet different people. Samuel also likes doing work more leisurely, and in doing so; he constantly works with online services to write a research paper. Samuel’s hobbies include; travel, sports, and drumming.